Friday, January 19, 2018

So Long, Panama

A final sunset over the Panamanian mountains

We returned to Mr Mac – once again at the Red Frog Marina on Isla Bastimentos near Bocas del Toro – in late October. We’d been in Panama for the last two cruising seasons and decided it was time to move on, so we had a lot to do. First on the list was cleaning the deck of the black mold and mildew than had flourished in the tropical humidity and sunlight. The marina had contacted us about doing it, but we’d thought “We’ll be back there in a week, so why not save the money and do it ourselves!” Well, it took Chris two full days to scrub the deck clean, but it finally looked decent again, and we spent the money we saved on our anniversary (27 years!) dinner. Next up was installing a new radar dome and display (our old one crapped out last spring), which went relatively easily, considering that we only had to install a new cord from our cockpit to the mast, and not an entirely new power cord up the mast, which is always a bitch to do. Our most dreaded job was hauling out and painting the bottom. Never a pleasant job, we were also wary of our shameful lack of Spanish complicating matters. Fortunately, Fabian, the yard manager at Bocas Yacht Services, spoke great English (being from Brazil, his native tongue is Portuguese, so Spanish was a second language for him, too). We were doing our own work, so communication with the other yard workers was almost entirely social, consisting of our broken Spanish, their broken English, and lots of smiles and sign language. There’s a little hotel in Almirante only a dinghy ride and short walk from the boatyard with rooms for $25 a night – not the most comfortable, but certainly cheap and boasting a great little restaurant. Lo and behold, the rain held off just long enough and we were done and back in the water in three days – the quickest and easiest haulout we’ve ever had. It was hard saying goodbye to the friends we’ve made in Bocas over the past couple of years, but as we’ve learned so often in cruising, we may well see them in another anchorage!
Red Frog has added a lovely beach club with infinity pool, bar, and restaurant (and flowers!)

Mementos of a walk through the Red Frog property - a tropical flower and the outside leaf of a banana tree blossom

Monday, January 8, 2018

We’re Back!

Mr Mac anchored in Providencia, Colombia

So sorry for the long silence. It’s been a busy year, and I’ll catch up some with occasional throwback posts. However, for now, we’re in Colombia, but probably not the Colombia you picture on the north coast of South America. We’re actually visiting two small islands – San Andrés and Providencia – that are owned by Colombia, but sit off of the Nicaraguan coast. They’re only about 50 miles apart, but boy, they couldn’t be more different! San Andrés is quite the tourist destination with lots of hotels, restaurants, shops, nightlife, and traffic…god, you gotta hate traffic. It’s a long, thin island with a ridge down the middle, spiky at the north end with tall buildings. Providencia, on the other hand, is rounder and incredibly lumpy with sharp-pitched hills, and a tiny little main town of Santa Isabel. It’s also a tourist destination, but a lower-key, more out of the way kind of place. You’ll see from the pictures I’ll post. For now, it’s great to be back!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Videos of our Panama Canal Transit

It’s an eerie feeling the first time the lock chamber doors close.

The turbulence created by the inflowing water was incredible. If you fell in, you’d be a goner.

Small but sturdy locomotives are used to maneuver ships through the locks.

The most time-consuming part of the activity in each chamber is getting all the boats/ship in and tied up. The actual filling and emptying of the chambers is relatively quick.